Wed, 01/24/2018 - 2:15pm
Howard & Jones
Joseph Alvin Leaphart Jr.
Jesup--Joseph Alvin Leaphart Jr. of Jesup and Shellman Bluff died at Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick, after a lengthy illness. He was born on April 20, 1937, and he lived most of his adult life in Jesup. He was a communicant of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jesup. While he was in high school, he worked in his father’s hospital as an orderly as well as a lab and X-ray assistant. He graduated from Georgia Military Academy and attended Oglethorpe University, Florida State University and Atlanta Art Institute. He served his county in the United States Coast Guard for two years off the coast of New England on a search and rescue cutter and a cable-laying vessel.
Following his Coast Guard service, he earned his law degree from Atlanta Law School and was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1962. Starting his legal career in Atlanta, he returned to practice law in Jesup with his uncle, Warner Gibbs. He practiced law in Jesup and throughout southeast Georgia for 55 years. He served as a leader among his peers in the Georgia legal community, having the distinction of being the longest serving member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia for 40 years. Throughout his tenure on the Board of Governors, he provided a strong voice for the interests of his fellow Bar members, especially his fellow “county lawyer” colleagues in Georgia’s small towns and rural areas. During his legal career, he served as attorney for the following entities: City of Jesup, City of Odum, Wayne County, Wayne County Board of Education and McIntosh County Board of Education.
He was the author of several novels, many of which were set in his beloved coastal Georgia. However, he was the proudest of his law manual published in December 2016: How to Practice Law in a Small Town and Make Money Doing It.
He was a talented artist, avid reader, history student and had traveled extensively throughout the world. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing, sailing and boat building having built a 65-foot, steel-hull sailboat in his backyard, which was seaworthy despite the skepticism of family and friends. He held a Master’s License issued by the United States Coast Guard.
He was active in politics beginning at an early age. One of his fondest memories was playing in the halls of Congress while his grandfather, Ben Gibbs, served as a United States Congressman and when his grandmother, Florence Gibbs, was elected Georgia’s first Congresswoman to complete her husband’s unexpired term. He was a longtime member of the Wayne County Democrat Party, serving in numerous offices including chairman. He also served on the state committee of the Georgia Democratic Party. He was active in the campaigns of many local, state and presidential candidates. He and his wife, Beverly, attended both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations and were both delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
He was a longtime member of the Jesup Elks Lodge No. 2133 B.P.E., the Jesup Lodge No. 112 F&AM, the Alee Temple and Shrine Club, the Jesup Royal Arch Masons No. 70 R.A.M. and was a member and past president of the Jesup Rotary Club.
He was born and raised in Jesup. His parents were the late Dr. Joseph Alvin Leaphart Sr. and Betty Gibbs Leaphart. In addition to his parents, his infant son, Joseph Alvin Leaphart III and his sister, Florence Leaphart Stanford, preceded him in death.
Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Beverly Westberry Leaphart; his daughter, Dr. Lynn Leaphart and her partner, Mr. Terry Adkins, of Savannah and Saint Marys; his son, Joseph Alvin Leaphart IV and his wife, Erica, of Los Alamos, New Mexico and his granddaughter, Amelia Leaphart of Decatur; one sister, Patricia Leaphart Garbutt and her husband, “Sonny” of Jesup; and one brother, Ben Leaphart and his wife, Millie, of Greenville, South Carolina, and many nephews and nieces.
Visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 26 at Howard and Jones Funeral Home in Jesup.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. today (Saturday) at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jesup with the Rev. Dee Shaffer the Rev. Steve Larson and Deacon Marty Meuschke officiating. A reception will follow the service immediately in the church parish hall.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 745 South Palm Street, Jesup, GA 31546.
Family and friends may sign the guestbook online at www.jesupfuneralhome.com
Howard & Jones Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
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